Canadian Running

2021 Spring Shoe Guide

13 New Mod­els and Up­dates for Spring

- Sports · Running · Consumer Goods · Athletics · T.J. Perkins · United States of America · Under Armour Inc. · Onitsuka Tiger

Puma De­vi­ate Nitro BEST NEW MODEL

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 268 g (9.5 oz.) Women’s: 218 g (7.7 oz.) Drop: 8 mm

$200

Puma is a well-es­tab­lished brand in the sports world, but the new, max­i­mal­ist De­vi­ate Nitro (one of a suite of shoes us­ing the brand’s in­no­va­tive mid­sole cush­ion­ing ma­te­rial) proves it’s se­ri­ous about run­ning (as does their re­cent sign­ing of marathoner Molly Sei­del and steeplecha­ser Aisha Praught-Leer). With a thin mesh up­per, an em­bed­ded car­bon com­pos­ite plate and a 32 mm ni­tro­gen-in­fused mid­sole, the De­vi­ate is a very springy, propul­sive shoe de­signed to take you through long train­ing runs ef­fi­ciently and with less wear and tear on your legs than a non-plated shoe. For run­ners ac­cus­tomed to the feel of bet­ter-known plated shoes, the De­vi­ate has a sim­i­lar pop at toe-off, but with­out the no­tice­able rocker, mak­ing for more nat­u­ral feel­ing ( but just as smooth) tran­si­tions. It’s also a tiny bit closer to the ground than its com­peti­tors, which means less in­sta­bil­ity when turn­ing cor­ners. The out­sole is a grippy, high­trac­tion rub­ber that both hugs the road on rainy days and pro­longs the shoe’s life.

The Nitro line also rec­og­nizes that women’s feet aren’t just smaller ver­sions of men’s feet – they’re pro­por­tioned dif­fer­ently, and the nar­rower heel in the women’s shoe ref lects that. In short: the De­vi­ate Nitro is fairly light, com­fort­able and fast and makes a great long run shoe, or even a race shoe for the marathon or half-marathon.

SHOE LINGO

PRONATION: the nor­mal in­ward roll of the foot as you tran­si­tion from heel to toe. Ex­ces­sive pronation (over­prona­tion) may make a run­ner more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­jury.

NEU­TRAL SHOE: de­signed for run­ners who don’t over­pronate. STA­BIL­ITY SHOE: de­signed for run­ners who over­pronate, i.e. their feet roll in­ward sig­nif­i­cantly with each step.

STACK HEIGHT: thick­ness of the foam mid­sole.

DROP: also called the off­set, it’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween the height of the mid­sole stack at the heel vs. the toe.

MID­SOLE: the layer of foam be­tween the up­per and the out­sole (bot­tom).

EN­ERGY RE­TURN: the de­gree to which the mid­sole foam springs back af­ter be­ing com­pressed when your foot hits the ground. MID­SOLE PLATE: the rigid plate em­bed­ded in a shoe’s mid­sole that’s de­signed to im­prove run­ning ef­fi­ciency in well-trained run­ners (some plates are made of car­bon fi­bre, some of plas­tic).

ROCKER: the up­ward curve to­ward the toe in some shoes.

Sau­cony Kin­vara 12 BEST SHOE FOR SPEEDWORK

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 213 g (7.5 oz.) Women’s: 184 g (6.5 oz.) Drop: 4 mm

$140

The Kin­vara has been around a long time, and at this point in a shoe fran­chise’s life­span the tweaks with each suc­ces­sive ver­sion are go­ing to be sub­tle. For the ex­pe­ri­enced, ef­fi­cient run­ner who trains hard and likes a firm, light trainer with a low drop, the new Kin­vara just keeps get­ting bet­ter.

The Kin­vara is the light­est shoe in our roundup, by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin, and the 12 is 20 g lighter than the 11. It re­tains the su­perlight pwr­run mid­sole used in the pre­vi­ous up­date in­tro­duced early last year, but the up­per has been stripped down to the bare es­sen­tials (though you’d never know it from a pho­to­graph – this shoe makes a state­ment), with just a lit­tle pad­ding around the tongue and col­lar to keep chaf­ing and blis­ters away. It also doesn’t make any bold claims about sup­port/sta­bil­ity or in­jury preven­tion; it just lets you run nat­u­rally and fast. But it does hug the ground, even on wet days, with bet­ter trac­tion than a shoe this light has a right to. It’s per­fect for track work­outs, fast tem­pos and fartleks, or even for your next PB over 5k or 10k.

Un­der Ar­mour HOVR In­fi­nite Sum­mit 2

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral Uni­sex: 357 g (12.6 oz.) Drop: 8 mm

$160

The In­fi­nite is UA’s most ver­sa­tile trainer, and the In­fi­nite Sum­mit 2 is like a spe­cial-edi­tion In­fi­nite that will work for most of your daily train­ing, as well as po­ten­tially stop traf­fic with its ar­rest­ing es­thet­ics. The shoe’s ex­tra­or­di­nary step-in com­fort comes from the foam sock­liner, which also pre­vents your foot from slid­ing around in­side the shoe while you run, and the well-padded col­lar con­trib­utes to a feel­ing of plush­ness. An ex­ter­nal tpu (plas­tic) heel counter keeps your heel com­fort­ably in place, and the sup­port­ive white cage on both sides is there for added sta­bil­ity. The shoe has a heavy-duty, trail-in­spired rub­ber out­sole that will keep you up­right and mov­ing for­ward in any con­di­tions or ter­rain, and car­bon rub­ber pods un­der the heel for added trac­tion and dura­bil­ity. (The re­in­forced over­lay on the toe is also rem­i­nis­cent of a trail shoe.) The un­usual cord lac­ing sys­tem and web­bing at the tongue and heel seem more aes­thetic than func­tional. This is the heav­i­est shoe in our roundup, and likely won’t be your first choice for faster work­outs.

Unli ke ot her hov r mod­els, t his shoe does not come wit h an em­bed­ded chip.

Hoka One One Mach 4

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 227 g (8 oz.) Women’s: 192 g (6.8 oz.) Drop: 5 mm

$160

Cana­di­ans are not so fa­mil­iar with the Mach, but they soon will be, thanks to this ma­jor up­date, which launches of­fi­cially on March 1. The Mach 4 is now like a lighter, faster ver­sion of the pop­u­lar Hoka Clifton 7 – they have sim­i­lar stack heights (29 mm in the men’s, 27 mm in the women’s) – and early re­ports out of the U.S. look very promis­ing.

The shoe works best as a fast trainer that you’d use for tempo runs and in­ter­val work­outs. The mid­sole is made of the brand’s Prof ly cush­ion­ing foam, which is con­sid­er­ably softer and 5 mm thicker than in the first ver­sion. The 4 also now has the same f lared heel col­lar as the Clifton 7 that makes it easy to pull on and re­duces pres­sure on the Achilles.

Wear­ers are lov­ing the shoe’s lightness and re­spon­sive­ness, though we re­serve judg­ment on the longevity of the rub­ber­ized eva out­sole. Note: the fit is long and nar­row, and wider sizes are not avail­able for this model.

Brooks Glyc­erin 19

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 289 g (10.2 oz.) Women’s: 255 g (9.0 oz.) Drop: 10 mm

$200

The Glyc­erin is Brooks’ plush­est trainer, and so in­stantly light and com­fort­able, you won’t need any break­ing-in time. With a nice stack of dna loft cush­ion­ing ma­te­rial through the length of the mid­sole, you get a smooth, com­fort­able ride in just about any con­di­tions. You also get more than ac­cept­able en­ergy re­turn and you can ex­pect the 19 will last as long as pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions. The 19, which comes in a va­ri­ety of colours, has all the fea­tures Glyc­erin fans have come to ex­pect from this very suc­cess­ful shoe: ex­cel­lent com­fort, great en­ergy re­turn and re­li­able dura­bil­ity. It now has even more cush­ion­ing, a slightly mod­i­fied up­per to en­hance fit, and a spongy heel col­lar. There’s not much that’s sexy about the Glyc­erin – but that’s why diehard run­ners keep com­ing back to it. Over­all, an ex­cel­lent choice for a daily trainer or long run shoe.

Nike ZoomX In­vin­ci­ble Run Flyknit

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 314 g (11.1 oz.) Women’s: 253 g (8.9 oz.) Drop: 9 mm

$235

Sev­eral brands are fo­cused on help­ing run­ners pre­vent in­juries in 2021, and Nike is one. Both the new ZoomX In­vin­ci­ble and the Re­act In­fin­ity 2 (p.57) are also de­signed to help you im­prove your run­ning econ­omy, the goal be­ing to help you get faster while stay­ing healthy. Though many run­ners have biome­chan­i­cal is­sues that shoes alone are un­likely to fix, the ZoomX (Pe­bax) foam in the new In­vin­ci­ble achieves a blend of springy re­spon­sive­ness, sup­port and com­fort that make for ef­fi­cient long runs and quick re­cov­er­ies. Plus the stack is sig­nif­i­cantly lower than on the Va­porf ly, Next% and Al­phaf ly, so you don’t get the wob­bli­ness that may lead to in­sta­bil­ity on tight turns. (The mid­sole is also very wide at the front, which also en­hances sta­bil­ity, and the rocker in the sole can­cels out any slug­gish­ness in tran­si­tions re­sult­ing from the wider fore­foot.)

The Flyknit up­per is also more sub­stan­tial than the Va­porf ly’s, and has a molded tongue and padded heel col­lar – all of which con­trib­ute to a bet­ter fit and a more com­fort­able long-run ex­pe­ri­ence.

Un­der Ar­mour FLOW Velociti Wind BEST UP­DATE

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 241 g (8.5 oz.) Women’s: 227 g (8.02 oz.) Drop: 8 mm

$190

Un­der Ar­mour’s new rac­ing f lat, launch­ing March 5, rep­re­sents a break­through for the brand, and an over­haul of the Velociti 3 rac­ing f lat launched in 2020.

Specif­i­cally, the new flow com­bi­na­tion mid­sole­out­sole, while pro­vid­ing com­pa­ra­ble en­ergy re­turn to the brand’s hovr ma­te­rial, is lighter, firmer, more durable, and nat­u­rally grippy, elim­i­nat­ing the need for a sep­a­rate rub­ber out­sole. (Ditch­ing the out­sole, ac­cord­ing to the brand, saves around 70 g of un­nec­es­sary weight.) It still has the more for­giv­ing 8 mm drop, which is slightly higher than other rac­ing f lats, mak­ing it more ver­sa­tile and more ap­peal­ing to a wider va­ri­ety of run­ners. (It’s also gone up in price by al­most a third.)

The flow Velociti Wind also has the su­per-com­fort­able molded sock liner and ex­cep­tional aes­thet­ics we’ve come to ex­pect from UA. De­signed to work for all of your daily train­ing runs and work­outs, it will also serve you well as a rac­ing f lat for any­thing from the 5k to the half-marathon. And it has the em­bed­ded chip that al­lows users to get on-the-run coach­ing via the UA MapMyRun app. If your sights for 2021 are set on some new PBs, this shoe is well worth a try.

Asics Glid­eride 2 Lite Show BEST SHOE FOR LONG RUNS

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 323 g (11.4 oz.) Women’s: 252 g (8.9 oz.) Drop: 5 mm

$210

The Glid­eride was built to help you achieve an op­ti­mally ef­fi­cient gait (i.e., one that re­quires as lit­tle en­ergy out­put as pos­si­ble). It ac­com­plishes this via a marked rocker in the sole (the brand’s GuideSole Tech­nol­ogy), com­bined with stiff­ness in the fore­foot and a re­in­forced plas­tic plate. The the­ory is that all those things, along with a re­in­forced heel cup, help pro­pel the foot through the gait cy­cle and min­i­mize ex­ces­sive side-to­side move­ment in the an­kle (which com­pro­mises ef­fi­ciency).

This new up­date suc­ceeds well. For those who like a nice, firm, re­spon­sive ride, the shoe de­liv­ers. And those who are ac­cus­tomed to a squishier ride but are still look­ing for great en­ergy re­turn should con­sider giv­ing this model a whirl, since the shoe’s stiff­ness is off­set by the rocker in the sole. The up­date also has a su­per-tough Ahar rub­ber out­sole, which means you can put a ton of miles on it with­out wear­ing it down. The trade­off is that, de­spite the deep cut­away in the sole, it’s a lit­tle heav­ier than com­pa­ra­ble fast train­ers, so you may de­cide to opt for some­thing lighter for your faster work­outs. Just don’t be sur­prised when your coach asks why your long runs have sud­denly be­come faster.

Asics Gel-Nim­bus Lite 2

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 258 g (9.1 oz.) Women’s: 221 g (7.8 oz.) Drop: 8 mm

$200

Build­ing on the suc­cess of the brand’s highly cush­ioned Gel-Nim­bus fran­chise, the Nim­bus Lite 2 is even lighter, more com­fort­able and more durable than be­fore. Asics’ sig­na­ture Gel tech­nol­ogy has been made softer in the rear for bet­ter­cush­ioned land­ings, and the well padded tongue and heel col­lar will help keep your feet com­fort­able over long, easy runs and faster work­outs alike.

The shoe also leaves a smaller “foot­print” than be­fore. The breath­able mesh up­per is made al­most en­tirely from re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, and the brand’s sig­na­ture Flyte­foam cush­ion­ing in the mid­sole in­cor­po­rates cel­lu­lose nanofi­bre, a sus­tain­able ma­te­rial made from wood pulp that boosts the foam’s dura­bil­ity. Plus, its tough Ahar rub­ber out­sole en­hances the shoe’s longevity, keep­ing it in cir­cu­la­tion longer. This is an ex­cel­lent choice for the run­ner who is con­cerned about our sport’s im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

On Cloudswift

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 282 g (9.9 oz.) Women’s: 220 g (7.7 oz.) Drop: 7 mm

$190

In­tended as a sturdy but re­spon­sive daily trainer for the ur­ban road run­ner, the Cloudswift’s sock­like up­per (100 per cent re­cy­cled en­gi­neered mesh) and sup­port­ive cage de­liver a snug, locked-down fit with­out ir­ri­ta­tion. The shoe de­liv­ers a highly propul­sive and sat­is­fy­ingly springy, re­spon­sive ride, achieved by a num­ber of fac­tors: the no­tice­able rocker in the sole, the pro­nounced He­lion Su­per­foam ( eva) cloud el­e­ments, and the up­dated Speed­board (like a hard plas­tic mid­sole plate, which now has more f lex in the heel and less in the fore­foot, for smooth tran­si­tions and a firm snap at toe-off ).

The shoe works well for easy runs, long runs and short races, and is light enough to per­form de­cently for faster tempo runs, fartleks and in­ter­vals on the track.

Al­tra Es­calante 2.5

Cat­e­gory: Neu­tral

Men’s: 241 g (8.5 oz.) Women’s: 196 g (6.9 oz.) Drop: 0 mm

$180

The lat­est Es­calante feels like a slip­per the mo­ment you pull it on, thanks to the su­per-stretchy knit up­per and tongue, cosy sock­liner and highly f lex­i­ble con­struc­tion. With 2 4 mm of plush foam in the mid­sole (softer than in the pre­vi­ous ver­sion), the shoe de­liv­ers a cushy ride with­out com­pro­mis­ing on en­ergy re­turn, al­low­ing you to feel the ground ac­cu­rately with every step. The out­sole is rub­ber only in the ar­eas of high­est wear, which keeps the shoe in­cred­i­bly light. It’s per­fect for faster work­outs and also makes a great race-day shoe.

If you’re try­ing this brand for the first time, you’ll en­joy the roomy toe­box (es­pe­cially if you have a wider foot), but be aware that Al­tra has a zero-drop phi­los­o­phy, which as­serts that your heels should not be higher than your toes (to pro­mote a nat­u­ral, mid­foot-strik­ing run­ning style). If you’re ac­cus­tomed to a shoe with a higher drop, start with very short dis­tances to spare your calves and Achilles ten­dons.

Brooks Glyc­erin GTS 19 BEST STA­BIL­ITY SHOE

Cat­e­gory: Sta­bil­ity

Men’s: 303 g (10.7 oz.) Women’s: 269 g (9.5 oz.) Drop: 10 mm

$200

Those with a ten­dency to over­pronate can go for the gts (Go-To Sup­port) ver­sion of the Glyc­erin 19, which has Brooks’s GuideRails sta­bil­ity sys­tem. Us­ing bumpers, rather than tra­di­tional post­ing, on the me­dial (in­side) and lat­eral (out­side) parts of the mid­sole, the GuideRails sys­tem gen­tly pro­tects run­ners from any ex­cess heel and shin ro­ta­tion you may ex­pe­ri­ence in the lat­ter stages of a race or a long work­out – move­ment that can, over time, cause dam­age to the knee, where the high­est per­cent­age of run­ning in­juries oc­curs. The GuideRails are there when you need them, but do not in­ter­fere with your nat­u­ral stride. So you get all the fea­tures you’ve al­ways loved about the Glyc­erin (that com­fort­able, cushy foam com­bined with great en­ergy re­turn) with a lit­tle ex­tra sup­port from the GuideRails when you need it.

Nike Re­act In­fin­ity Run 2 BEST DAILY TRAINER

Cat­e­gory: Sta­bil­ity

Men’s: 302 g (10.7 oz.) Women’s: 244 g (8.6 oz.) Drop: 8 mm

$190

The Re­act In­fin­ity Run was cre­ated to ad­dress the need for sta­bil­ity with­out the rigid­ity of tra­di­tional me­dial post­ing, and it’s been up­dated with an even greater fo­cus on in­jury preven­tion. The shoe’s sta­bil­ity comes via a wider plat­form at the front, and, as with the ZoomX In­vin­ci­ble Run Flyknit (re­viewed on p.54), the shoe’s rocker helps you glide smoothly through tran­si­tions.

Based on feed­back from r un­ners, t he brand has beefed up t he toe area of t he up­per so it doesn’t wear t hrough as quickly.

There’s more gen­er­ous pad­ding in t he heel col­lar, and t he brand ’s unique Fly wire ca­bles per­form t he same f unct ion as over­lays in ot her brands, adding st r uct ure and en­hanc­ing f it and lock­down. The st retchy tong ue cont r ibutes to a comfy, sock­like feel t hat will st ay wit h you t hrough­out your run. The Re­act foam in t he mid­sole, which man­ages to be soft and durable at t he same t ime (t he peren­nial quest for shoe brands) means t he shoe ret ains t hat feel­ing of c ushy com­fort for a lot of miles. This highly ver­sat ile shoe works well for easy r uns, long r uns and tempo ses­sions for r un­ners of a ll lev­els .

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